Safilo's turnover grew more than expected last year. This leading Italian glasses manufacturer, second only to Luxottica, raised its turnover by 17 percent to 987 billion lire (e510m), instead of the 930 billion lire (e480m) previously budgeted. In particular, the group's sports division, with its Carrera and Smith lines, had a 21 percent increase in sales, reaching the level of 104 billion lire (e54m) one year earlier than had been previously planned.

Group sales rose at double-digit rates in all the main markets where Safilo operates. Sales were up 19.1 percent in Europe, including Italy. They increased by 14.6 percent in North America and by 20.2 percent in the rest of the world. Earnings were not disclosed, but they are believed to have gone up substantially. Net debt at the end of 1999 declined to about 229 billion lire (e118m) from 250 billion lire in December of 1998.

The group's management, led by Vittorio Tabacchi, is now forecasting a further 12 percent increase in sales this year to 1,100 billion lire (e570m), with sports division sales up 20 percent to 120 billion lire (e62m). Operating results for the year 2000 are also expected to increase.

The group is planning to invest over 8 percent of turnover on advertising. Technical investments are budgeted at 70 billion lire (e36m), and they will be allocated to setting up the group's new central distribution center in Padua, building Smith Sport Optics' new US headquarters in Sun Valley, Idaho, and extending Optyl's production capacity, among other things.